Let’s step away from the tips and advice part and instead analyze what’s so important about these blasted MBA essays anyways.
Being a three-time MBA applicant myself, I know what it’s like to be dazed and confused in the process.
On some days, I was super confident, and on other days, I had lost all hope in getting into a competitive business school. It’s quite a roller coaster and you need to have a strong sense of will, focus, and determination.
Especially if you’re applying to more than three schools!
Other writing resources and even some essay consulting companies jump right into the essays without giving you some perspective on why MBA essays are a vital component to your application.
They usually fail to emphasize a simple point:
Your MBA essays are a meaningful activity between you and the admission officers reading your application. Your essays are not just a beautiful recollection of your career goals, life experiences, and achievements, they’re an ordered set of paragraphs that do something for the reader, that touch the reader’s mind and heart. A great essay is an action with a purpose.
Of course, we don’t live in a perfect world and the choice is not always ours to make: you might be required to show admission officers that you understand one thing in particular.
But for the most part, even when you have strict guidelines and word counts to follow, you have many choices.
Here are some things you can do to really create powerful essays. For the purpose of this post, let’s make up a name for our imaginary admission officer.
Her name is Patty and she’s stoked to read your application. How are you going to impress her?
Let’s take a look:
1) Teach or instruct Patty about something. If you have any accomplishments and/or success stories, use these stories to teach Patty what you’re all about. If you’re going to tell her specific things you do, make sure you’re always elaborating what you get out of these activities and whether they have an impact on you or the people around you;
2) Delight Patty, give her something to appreciate or enjoy. Be a storyteller and don’t just ramble on with your achievements and successes. If you’re an avid reader or movie junkie, a little drama makes a good story. Leave some room in your essays for some failures/mistakes you’ve made and explain what you learned from it. Even if it’s a positive experience, be a good storyteller.
3) Move Patty, inspire her to feel a certain way to do a double-take on your application. If you can make her smile at least once, that’s a point in your favor. Admission officers are people too, and I’m sure they are reading hundreds of applications. Don’t go for the overkill but try to be pleasant in your essays.
Don’t be afraid of giving away a bit of emotion to show Patty that you’re a human being too and not just a manila folder with a name on it.
Remember, Patty’s trying to get a sense of how you’re going to fit in at her school.
What type of feeling is she going to get when you’re enrolled and you pass by her in the hallway. Will she have a warm fuzzy feeling of you?
An outstanding MBA essay accomplishes at least two of these goals above. A bad essay, even when written perfectly, does not meet any of these criteria. So while you’re writing, don’t just write to write. Write to move your reader.
If you’d like to learn more about writing effective MBA essays, feel free to sign up for my new eGuide called ‘MBA Essays Exposed’ – a guide with real successful essays to schools like Stanford, Harvard, Wharton, and others.
You will get tips, advice, access to sample essays, sample letters of recommendation, resumes, and an application score card. Sign up here!